History

Founded in 1879

Uniontown has a rich history stretching back to the post-Civil War era with the arrival of founder Thomas Montgomery in 1867. Since then, the Town has grown and adapted to progress, continuing to be a place of industry, artistry, community and volunteerism.

The founder of Uniontown was Thomas Montgomery, referred to by his family as "a bit of a wanderer." That is an understatement! He left New York during the Civil War in 1863, arriving in the Uniontown area in 1867. He filed a homestead claim in 1874, obtained a post office for Uniontown in 1878 and filed the plat for Uniontown in 1879. Many of the early settlers that came to Uniontown were German and Swiss immigrants with a strong, but not exclusive, Catholic background. The first wooden Catholic Church was built in 1879.

Thomas Montgomery was apparently a difficult man to get along with, and several businesses moved three miles down the road to the competing community of Colton due to disputes with Mr. Montgomery. Thomas Montgomery continued to buy and sell property in Uniontown until 1883. On December 8 of that year he was killed as a result of a dispute.

Another constructive but difficult character in Uniontown's early history was Father Anton Joehren. By 1888, Fr. Joehren had begun plans to build a glorious church structure of brick and stone. But in 1893, after only a foundation was constructed, work stopped due to a dispute between the priest and some parish members. Also, as a result of his difficult nature, the Benedictine Sisters moved from Uniontown to Colton in 1894, and then to Cottonwood, Idaho in 1906, establishing the St. Gertrude Monastery. After Fr. Joehren was removed, a new priest led the congregation in building the current magnificent brick church, which was completed in the spring of 1905. It was built of Uniontown brick, with a façade is flanked by two towers and a front gable is surmounted by a seven-foot statue of Mary. The church retains much of its original appearance: stained glass windows, numerous statues, five altars and beautiful frescos.

From its founding into the 1870s, Uniontown was a commercial, manufacturing, transportation, social and farming center. By 1900, the town included a grocery store, brewery, phone company, brick yard, bank, hardware store, lumberyard, farm supply company, newspaper, railroad depot, two hotels, and both Catholic and public schools. During the first half of the twentieth century, two major changes had drastic effects on business life in Uniontown. Farming became mechanized, causing an increase in the size of farms and a decrease in the number of people needed to work a farm. The other major change was in transportation. Road improvements and the development of barge transportation on the Snake River resulted in the eventual discontinuation of train service and the centralization of commercial services in larger nearby communities. The public and Catholic schools were consolidated in Colton. The Catholic Church now shares a priest with the Colton church, and the Protestant Church has a small but active congregation.

Residents of Uniontown have a reputation for being involved, strong minded, not afraid to try new things, and a willingness to volunteer on community projects. For example, the first telephone line was brought to Uniontown in 1886 at the instigation of residents; and in 1997, again at the urging of residents, local internet service was set-up by Inland Phone company, before most rural areas had internet service.